Eggs 101: Are Brown Eggs Healthier Than White? Nutritional Differences in Eggs
The egg section in your grocery store is stocked with many varieties of eggs. Some specialty eggs appear to be healthier than the regular white eggs. Are they worth the extra money?
The Difference in Egg Yolk Color
Egg yolk color is determined by the type of feed a hen eats. The color of a yolk does not indicate egg quality, freshness, or nutritional value.
- A wheat-based diet will produce a pale yellow yolk
- A corn or alfalfa-based diet yields a darker yellow yolk.
The Difference in Egg Shell Color
Eggshell color is determined by the breed of the hen.
- Brown-shelled eggs may come from White Plymouth Rocks, Barred Plymouth Rocks, Rhode Island Reds chickens.
- White-shelled eggs may come from White Leghorn, Ancona, Polish chickens.
The Difference in Grades
In supermarkets, some eggs have been graded. The most common grades we came across are Grade AA and Grade A, although Grade B eggs exist. Grades indicate quality, not nutrition or safety levels.
- Grade AA eggs have shells that are clean and unbroken, with an air cell bubble not more than 1/8 inch, and a clear and thick egg white.
- Grade A eggs have shells that are also clean and unbroken, with an air cell bubble between 1/8 and 3/16 inch, and a clear and reasonably thick egg white.
- Grade B eggs have shells that may be slightly stained, an air cell bubble larger than 3/16 inch, and thin or watery egg white that may have blood spots.
Nutritional Facts of Eggs
One large boiled egg (50g, white-shelled or brown-shelled) provides:
- Calories: 78
- Fat: 5 g
- Saturated Fat: 1.6 g
- Cholesterol: 187 mg
- Carbohydrate: 0.6 g
- Fiber: 0 g
- Protein: 6 g
- Choline: 147 mg
- Vitamin B12: 0.55 ug
- Lutein + zeaxanthin: 176 ug
- Vitamin D: 43.5 IU
- Omega 3 enhanced eggs are from hens fed a diet of flax seed or fish oils. Omega-3 enhanced eggs contain more omega-3 fatty acids and Vitamin E than regular eggs. An independent test conducted by the CBC TV show Marketplace found that omega-3 enhanced eggs contain approximately 7 times more omega-3 fatty acids than regular white eggs.
- Organic eggs are produced by hens fed certified organic grains without most conventional pesticides and fertilizers. Growth hormones and antiobiotics are also prohibited for this designation class. Organic eggs have the same nutritional content, fat or cholesterol as regular eggs.
- Free-Run or Cage-free eggs are produced by hens that are able to move about the floor of the barn and have access to nesting boxes and perches. The nutrient content of these eggs is the same as that of regular eggs.
- Free-Range eggs are produced in a similar environment as cage-free eggs but hens have access to outdoor runs as well. The nutrient content of these eggs is the same as that of regular eggs.
- Processed eggs such as liquid egg whites or dried egg whites are regular eggs broken by special machines then pasteurized before being further processed and packaged into a liquid, frozen or dried form. Processed egg products may also contain preservatives, flavor or color additives.
Eggs Are Nutrition Powerhouse
Eggs are a nutrition powerhouse. Rich in folate, Vitamin B12, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, eggs also provides a good source of lutein, a type of an antioxidant beneficial to eye health.
If you are concerned about animal welfare, you may look for United Egg Producers Certified Eggs. These eggs come from hens living in humane conditions with attention to living environment, healthcare , and treatment. More information about the UEP program here.
Alumni: University of British Columbia – Gloria Tsang is the author of 6 books and the founder of HealthCastle.com, the largest online nutrition network run by registered dietitians. Her work has appeared in major national publications, and she is a regularly featured nutrition expert for media outlets across the country. The Huffington Post named her one of its Top 20 Nutrition Experts on Twitter. Gloria’s articles have appeared on various media such as Reuters, NBC & ABC affiliates, The Chicago Sun-Times, Reader’s Digest Canada, iVillage and USA Today.